San Francisco is stepping up its actions against anti-abortion "crisis pregnancy centers" whose advertisements mislead the public. The national anti-choice response is officially, "The other side does it too." Not quite.
A bill has been introduced to target false advertising — expanding an existing, more general state law — which is likely to experience the same legal hurdles as similar attempts in New York and Maryland.
Also, city attorney Dennis Herrera sent a letter to First Resort, a crisis pregnancy center with several locations in the Bay area, warning that it was in danger of being sued if it didn't fix ads that "appear to be designed to confuse or mislead consumers." Here, via SFist, is one such ad.
Here's what the National Right To Life Committee said in its statement:
"If the San Francisco city attorney and Board of Supervisors are so concerned about truth-in-advertising by pregnancy care centers, they should also force San Francisco's abortion facilities to clearly post that their primary business is abortion."
Hmm, let's take them at their word and see what happens! The first place that comes up when I Google "San Francisco Abortion Clinics" is Choice Medical Group. (Admittedly, we don't have access to their outdoor advertising from here in New York.) Right there on the homepage: "Choice Medical Group has been providing quality abortion care to the women of Northern California for over 25 years." Not incidentally, the next result is for First Resort — more on that in a sec.
Next up: Family Planning Specialists Medical Group, which announces on its homepage that it "recently celebrated 27 years of providing safe, compassionate and confidential abortion care to women in the Bay Area." Clearly, unsuspecting women are being lured by false... never mind.
Compare that to First Resort, which is as vague as possible: "First Resort is a Pregnancy Counseling Women's Health Clinic. We provide counseling and medical care to women who are making decisions about unplanned pregnancies." (At least they have licensed nurses, which is more than many allegedly "medical" CPCs have.)
There is a section on abortion, which is also as hazy as possible: "In trying to decide if abortion is the right choice, women have many things to think about and sort out. Learning the facts about abortion can help them in making the best choice for them." The facts? Based on what NARAL volunteers in California were told when they went undercover at CPCs, "many of these centers practiced manipulative counseling and provided medically inaccurate information," with the majority pushing disproven links between abortion and infertility, breast cancer, and mental health problems.
By the way, the same misleading MO turns out to be in operation across the Atlantic too.